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September 1974

Wound Dressing or Window Dressing?Je le pansay et Dieu le guarit. AMBROISE PARÉ

Author Affiliations

Thoracic Surgery Service Newton-Wellesley Hospital Newton Lower Falls, MA 02162

Arch Surg. 1974;109(3):457. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1974.01360030109030

The mystique of the dressing as a crucial factor in wound healing is apparently an ineradicable part of our surgical heritage. In point of fact, the experience of modern surgery suggests that a dressing may be superfluous—if not actually counter-productive—in many situations. A recent article1 in a trade journal presents an elegant rationale for the use of some kind of dressing under virtually all circumstances. While acknowledging the special requirements that may exist with burns, grafts, and wounds crossing joints, for example, I should like to indicate that, in the case of the clean incised surgical wound, prolonged postoperative use of a dressing is not only disadvantageous but potentially hazardous.

For the past 20 years it has been my practice to employ a minimal, loosely applied dressing for every clean thoracotomy incision and to remove it promptly on the morning after surgery. Bacteriologically speaking, wounds are probably effectively sealed

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